I've often written about the inherent difficulties and sacrifices (and unseen rewards) that go with being the sibling of a child on the autism spectrum, and now we see hard evidence that kids with an autistic sibling have a lot more to work against than kids with neurotypical siblings.
This study compiled data from 69 separate studies that involved 6,679 children with an autistic sibling and 21,263 controls (or kids with neurotypical siblings).
The study found the following:
- Siblings of autistic children are more likely than siblings of children without the condition to be withdrawn and to have poor social skills.
- They also fare worse socially and emotionally, by various measures, than do siblings of children with intellectual disability or other forms of developmental delay.
- They are no more likely than controls to have outward behavior problems, such as aggression.
- Siblings of autistic children are at risk of secondary conditions or traits associated with autism, but not core features of autism.
The most surprising finding of the study was that the results did not vary based on point of view - meaning both parents and siblings of the child with autism rated the issues the same way, showing there was no overreaction or innate bias.